TV network pulls '19 Kids And Counting' from schedules following son's molestation confession
TLC has pulled all broadcasts of hit US reality series '19 Kids And Counting' from it's schedules, it's been reported.
The network, which also has a UK affiliate that is available to Irish viewers via digital TV services, has removed the programme as controversy surrounding one of the show's stars continues to build.
The reality series focuses on the lives of married couple Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, and their 19 children - nine girls and ten boys, all of whose names begin with the letter 'J'. The family are devout Independent Baptists.
Yesterday, allegations surfaced that Josh Duggar (27) - their eldest child - allegedly admitted to molesting up for four girls when he was a teenager.
The incidents were investigated by police but no charges were brought.
Several hours after the allegations surfaced, Josh "acknowledged" he molested underage girls as a teenager.
The alleged incidents occurred in 2002 and 2003, when Josh was 14. It is claimed the girls were sleeping when he is alleged to have molested them.
"Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret," he said.
"We spoke with authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counselling," he said.
Josh is married to wife Anna. She said her husband confessed his "past teenage mistakes" to her two years before they married in 2008. The couple have three children, and are expecting their fourth later this year.
The incidents were reported to police in 2006 - but the statute of limitations for such offences has run out.
Sources close to the series have told TMZ that TV executives have yet to decide on the fate of the programme in the long-term.
The network has come in for criticism from many quarters after broadcasting a 'Duggar marathon' on Thursday - episodes in which Josh was prominently featured.
It's thought that advertisers are staying away from the show.
'19 Kids And Counting' is one of TLC's biggest viewing hits and was first aired in 2009 and has continued for five series.
Earlier this year, the network axed popular reality series 'Here Comes Honey Boo Boo' from it's schedules after it emerged the show's matriarch, Mama June, was dating a convicted child molester who abused her own daughter.